Friday, October 31, 2008


My parents will appreciate this. (I am not trying to make you guys feel old, really.)

Mom, Dad, do you remember this dress?
Let's get a closer look shall we?
Yup, that's a vintage frock my Hosanna is wearing. It came from a box of my baby clothes that we found when Dad & Karyl moved a few years ago. And now my baby is wearing it.

Isn't she pretty?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

For the Love of Pie!

Laura at Heavenly Homemakers recently hosted a contest for pie recipes. She compiled all of the recipes into a free ebook on her website. I have 3 recipes featured in the book, but there are many others that sound delicious too! So, go to the Heavenly Homemakers site and download your free pie ebook!

Make a Shirt

Jade is very particular about her clothes. When she finds something she likes, you better have more than one or she will wear that one item of clothing until I can't take it anymore and have to peel the grubby thing off her (kicking and screaming) so I can wash it. *ahem* She has this one green shirt that she just loves. It is from a rummage sale though, so I can't just go buy another. So the thought occurs to me, maybe I can find a pattern that is similar and make one! I went to Hancock Fabrics and sure enough, there was a shirt pattern that was the same exact style as her green shirt.

(And the clouds roll open, sunlight beams down on me...) HALLELUJAH!!

She found the pattern on the counter and started asking...

"Make a shirt."

"Make a shirt please"

"Sharm, make a shirt!"

"Mom, Sharm, make a shirt please!"

I could go on, but you get the idea. So yesterday I made her a shirt. I had some bumps in the road. A little misreading on my part, not quite enough fabric, coudn't find my bias tape, etc, but I eventually got it done. I need to add that Tanna had the pattern for a few days earlier in the week to size it down. The only size in stock when I was shopping was the 10 1/2 - 16 1/2 girls plus. Jade is anything but a plus, but I was desperate. So, thank you to Tanna for helping me resize!

Jade was very pleased with her shirt. She had to wear it right away. She didn't even let me cut off all the little threads. Impatient much? I'm just glad she likes it. This is the first homemade item of clothing that she will actually wear.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mr. Dishwasher's Vacation: Week 1

At Bekah's request, I'm going to do weekly updates on Mr. Dishwasher's time out. So here we go...

Week 1:

It was pretty entertaining on the morning following the dishwasher's disappearance. Kordell was all "where'd the dishwasher go?" And we were like, "If you don't appreciate the dishwasher, you can do them by hand!"

I decided to try something new in order to keep me sane. We are washing the dishes after each meal instead of trying to do them all at the end of the day. It only takes a couple inches of water to wash a meals worth of dishes, so we aren't using any more water doing it this way. And it only takes a couple of minutes each time, so it doesn't feel like such a huge chore. I actually don't mind handwashing this way.

Kordell has put up a stink a few times, but as we have gotten into the routine and he knows how little time it takes, he has been more compliant. Plus, I think he enjoys babbling on to me while we work. I'm glad it doesn't take too long because my tolerance for hunting/guns/bows/deer/etc. chatter is rather small. I love my son but ugh. I can only take so much. Anyway, he usually has everything put away in a timely manner with not too much grumbling.

I hate to say this, but I almost kinda sorta like not having the dishwasher. There's more room in my kitchen (it's a big ol' portable). The dishes actually get *clean*. I don't have to fiddle around with all kinds of detergent trying to find one that works without filling my home with noxious toxic chemicals. My counters are clean all day and when I get up in the morning. It's rather nice. I was so glad to get the dishwasher because I have always struggled with the dish job myself, but now that I am getting in the groove, it's not too bad going without.

We will see how the situation progresses. Tune in next week!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Love Free Concerts

Especially when it's a free Andrew Peterson concert!!

One of the local churches hosted a free concert last night with one of my very favorite music artists. I don't listen to much music anymore, but if I had an iPod, this guy would be in it. Anyway, I have been planning for weeks to go to this concert, strategizing so we would get good seats and everything because I knew it would be packed. The plan was to leave really early, get a $5 pizza at Little Caesar's, and sit in front of the church until the doors opened so we could get the best seats. We had a little hang up with our plan... Our babysitter forgot. We called him Thursday night to make sure everything was good and he had forgotten. He had to work until 6:00, drive 20 minutes to our house, and then we had to drive 20 minutes back to town for the concert (doors opened at 6:30, it started at 7:00). I was absolutely panicking thinking that we weren't going to make it in time.

Somehow though, it all worked out. He was able to switch with someone else for closing duties, and get to our house in time for us to get there at 6:45. I'm glad we weren't any later!! It was packed already but we found two seats on the far side, in the middle of the auditorium. When it was done and we were leaving, we saw that there had been people sitting outside the auditorium! There were SO many people that they had to set up a dozen rows of chairs out there! So we were very blessed to get there when we did.

The concert was AMAZING!!! It was a one man show, just Andrew with his guitars, a piano and a mic. He sang all of the songs from his brand new album, plus a few old favorites. It was cool to hear all the stories behind the songs. Andrew is a very talented songwriter and each song touched the heart and moved the soul. My favorite was "Hosanna". He talked about how misused and misunderstood the word "Hosanna" is. It is not a name for God, and in the original usage, it was not a word of praise. It's meaning is "Save us" or "Save us now!" It became a word of praise because of the triumphal entry, but the people that day were crying out for salvation! There is so much wrapped up in that one word... a cry for salvation and praise because He has saved us!! Anyway, it was great. All the songs were great, the stories were great, yeah...

At the end of the concert, the crowd gave him such a rousing ovation that he came out and did an encore of 3 more songs! He was pretty funny. He said that he doesn't plan an encore and didn't know what to sing! Apparently, he's not used to playing for people who know who he is, so he usually just gets polite applause and that's about it. But our local Christian radio plays his songs, so he's very popular here, and the audience couldn't get enough. He said we were his favorite audience ever. LOL

I wish I could have bought a CD, or all of them... They had a great deal, 2 for $15, but we couldn't do it. So, if anyone needs birthday or Christmas ideas for me, go here and buy me an Andrew Peterson CD! I will listen to it over and over, I promise.

The best part of the night was getting to be alone with my hubby. It doesn't happen very often, and it was wonderful. He did enjoy the concert, even though music isn't really his thing. And afterward we got cappucino and cookies at the gas station, which is how this family started in the first place... cappucino late at night from Kwik Trip almost 13 years ago....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pinto Bean Week & A Recipe

Building on the Stretchy Beans concept, I made this week Pinto Bean Week! You are all SO excited to read about beans again aren't you? It is exciting because this week I cooked meat too! *gasp* A friend of mine actually thought I was a vegetarian. I assure you, I do enjoy a good hunk of meat now and then. But, boy, meat is expensive! Thus the stretchy beans...

One of the local grocery stores had bone-in ham portions on sale this week for $0.99 per pound - that's half price! I bought a big ol' 9 pound ham and cooked it up on Tuesday. Wednesday I cooked up 2 pounds of pinto beans with the ham bone. I took out 2 pints and a quart of beans & bean broth from the pot before dinner. Then the rest of the week's meals are planned around the extras.

Here is this week's bean plan:
Meal 1: Bean & Ham Soup (boy was that good with real ham bits!)
Meal 2: Kitchen Sink Stew (recipe to follow)
Meal 3: Bean & Rice Tacos
Meal 4: Autumn Vegetable soup

It's a lot of soup, but the weather is cool and damp, so soup is so good and warming!

Here is the recipe for Kitchen Sink Stew. It was originally called Mexican Pumpkin Chili, but there's nothing Mexican about it and by the time I was done I felt like everything but the kitchen sink went in the soup pot! It had a very unusual flavor, unlike anything I have ever made before. Strangely delicious!

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
dash nutmeg
4 c. water + bouillon to make broth
1 butternut squash, peeled, gutted, and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 c. salsa (hot as you want, I used mild)
7-8 drops stevia or a pinch of sugar
2 c. pinto beans
1-2 c. frozen corn
1 can coconut milk

Saute onion & garlic in a little oil until soft. Add spices and warm until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, squash, and sweet potato. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until veggies are soft. Mash vegetable chunks with a potato masher, or use a hand blender to puree them. Add salsa, stevia, beans, corn, and coconut milk. Simmer until warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blessings of the Harvest

We were blessed last weekend with some garden bounty! Tanna harvested her squash & onions last week. She sent me home with a few...

Look at the size of those squash! The spaghetti squash in particular were huge this year.
We've been enjoying the butternuts already. Jade really likes it!! I think I will have to get some more while they are in season. I even got Kordell to like it. It's amazing what a little brown sugar and cinnamon will do. :-)

Tanna also let me pick some apples right off her tree. She hasn't picked any yet, so I got first dibs. They were decent size, especially considering that she doesn't spray her trees at all.

I decided to make apple butter with the apples. I filled up my slow cooker with sliced apples and added lots of yummy spices. It cooked on low all day and made the most delicious apple butter! No pot watching required!
I should have taken a picture of the finished product. But I think the scrap bowl with all the curly apple peelings is pretty in a weird sort of way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Upwardly Mobile

My baby girl took her first steps last night!

Part of me is hugely excited about it!! And yet...

Part of me could just cry and cry.

As I look at our family, I wonder if Hosanna will be my last baby. She may be my last baby for awhile, at any rate. And while I love to see her grow and learn new things, part of me is really sad that she is growing out of the baby stage so quickly. I LOVE nurturing babies. It's completely what I was made for. I just love every part of it. And I'm not ready to let go of that just yet. I guess this is the part where we wait and see what God has in store for us.

Despite my sadness over the whole affair, I am very thankful for a few things:

- I was there to see her first steps! I wasn't at work (Praise the Lord for allowing me to be a stay-at-home mom!) and I hadn't left for my homeschool moms meeting yet (but I was practically walking out the door.)

- Her first steps were to her daddy. He wasn't at work either. One of the biggest blessings of his disability is that he doesn't have to miss these special moments!

God has certainly blessed us. I am so thankful for my little girl and for the joy she brings to our lives.

Find more to be thankful for at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mr. Dishwasher Gets a Time Out

No, he wasn't naughty. But he was so tired of causing fights that he asked for a time out. And we gave him one.

Actually, we took the dishwasher away to *attempt* to teach our son a lesson. He complains every. single. day. about loading and unloading the dishwasher. We have tried to convince him that this is not hard work. But he insists that it is, and takes hours to complete the job to prove to us how horribly hard it is. So we gave Mr. Dishwasher a time out. Maybe he will be back when he feels more appreciated.

Until then, I am washing and Kordell will be doing the rinsing, drying, and putting away. Why am I washing? Well, you see, I like dishes that are actually clean. And I don't want to fight for my clean dishes. I'll just fight to get them dry and put away. *sigh*

I really don't know what to do to get through to this kid. Shipping him off to military school sounds loverly right about now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's Black Bean Week!

You probably all remember the Lentils & Rice Experiment. I've decided to build on that concept and experiment with different kinds of beans. I've always been a bit leery of beans, even had an all out hatred of them for awhile. But now that I'm a grown-up, and I see how nutritious and frugal they are, I am learning to like them. And, more importantly, I'm teaching my children to like them.

My focus this week was black beans. I started with them because I already use them in a lot of recipes and they are familiar to Teagan & the kids. I started with 3 cups of black beans (because that's how much fit in the jar I took to the co-op when I bought bulk goods last time.) Here's what I ended up with after they were cooked. 2 pints, 1 quart, and a cup or so for use in dinner. That's about 5 cans worth. I probably saved about 50-75% by cooking my own beans instead of buying them. Plus, I know exactly what is in those beans.

Our menu plan for the week looks like this:

Day 1: Black bean & veggie quesadillas
Day 2: Spicy Black beans & Rice
Day 3: Black bean Soup with cornbread
Day 4: Corn & Black bean Chili with leftover cornbread

These are all meals that my family already eats, the difference is that I saved a bunch of money cooking my own beans and we ate the meals all in a row instead of spreading them out over a few weeks time. I could also have canned or frozen the extra beans for later use, but I save time and packaging (freezer bags or jar lids) by just putting them in the fridge and using them right away.

I am calling black bean week a success! Next week is pinto beans. I'll start out with Mom's Bean & Ham Soup and go from there. Anyone have a recipe to share?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Packrat Much?


I've been working on our big house shuffle and can I just say that I am SUCH a packrat?! I'm getting so much better, but wow. The stuff I've found...

I spent the whole morning going through cookbooks and recipes. 3 BOXES FULL!! I had more recipes stashed than I could possibly cook in my entire lifetime. I've pared it down to a very small selection of old favorites and really good sounding new ones to try.

The other thing I realized this morning...

I've come a LONG way baby!!

Not just in the packrattery department, but in the food department. All of the recipes I found were either for sugar-loaded desserts or unhealthy "real" meals. Any recipe that called for bisquick, velveeta, or canned soup as a main ingredient was tossed. That was almost all of them. Yikes again. It was amazing to me to realize that was how I used to cook every meal! There was nothing real about our food back then at all. Now we eat actual real food. Whole grains, beans, vegetables... everything as close to original form as possible. Real food tastes so much better and we feel so much better when we eat it. And you know what else? It's cheaper too.

Teagan says if he would have known how much better the food was when we had to "make do" we would have started making-do a long time ago! LOL

Well, I got completely off topic there, so it's time to sign off and get back to work. More on the "Big Shuffle of 2008" later...

Friday, October 10, 2008

I've Created a Monster

So, it started with the chocolate cookie. And then I found this...

Apparently Hosanna has a thing for chocolate! That's right, she chewed open a package of hot chocolate! Yikes!

You're all wondering how a thing like that happens. Well, we're smack in the middle of a home re-organization project, stuff is everywhere, and we're all a bit distracted. It's not always like this...

My Honey's a Ham

Teagan is officially a amateur radio operator! He passed his test last Saturday and got his call sign yesterday. KC9OKC He made his first broadcast this morning. I guess he chatted with his dad and a couple other hams from the area. One of them was broadcasting from our old Ford Contour! It was the guy we got the grand cherokee from a few years back. We traded the ford for the jeep. He still has it. The jeep died long ago. Go figure.

Anyway, I'm really proud of my honey! He put in a lot of time studying for his test and he did it! Go Teagan!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Silly Video

A message board I'm on challenged everybody to post a short video clip of themselves. Here's mine... I thought you might get a kick out of it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I Suppose

I suppose you all would like to see pictures of my children. I've shown you pictures of food, plants, and my feet, and now you are wondering why you even read my blog because you really just want to see my cute kids...

So, here you go. I took these pictures a few weeks back when the garden was still in full swing. I have the cutest garden helpers!!

Got My Quota...

...of grease for the month!!!

We had fried green tomatoes and pan-fried onion rings for lunch.

I've never had fried green tomatoes, and I'm not sure I'll go through all the trouble to have them again. I wasn't all that impressed. They were okay. Maybe I did it wrong? The onion rings were wonderful though!

Now I want to go lay down. I think we will have something very light and healthy for dinner.


Friday, October 03, 2008

A Sad Day

Today was a sad day. I woke up to this:

Yes, that's my garden. With frostbite.

We knew it was going to freeze. The tarp we have is only big enough to cover half of the garden. So I told Teagan to cover the tomato and the peppers. Both are still loaded with immature fruit, and if the weather rallies, they may mature yet. We've eaten a lot of eggplant and I knew the kale would survive, so we left that end uncovered.

What I didn't take into account, or didn't remember, was the basil was on that end. I had been planning to pull it all out before we got frost and make pesto to freeze. There was a ton of basil out there. And I totally forgot about it last night in my haste to save the other veggies. All of my basil froze. I was so so bummed.

We harvested the remaining eggplant, all the lima beans (it froze too), and the last few broccoli heads. Then we pulled up all the frozen plants. Teagan found a few (very few) basil leaves that had been hidden enough to be saved. I was grateful to have even a little.

We celebrated the day with one last Eggplant Parmesan. I used up the last 5 little eggplant, the last bit of basil, and all the ripe tomatoes. We relished each bite and talked about how good it would taste next summer when the garden was in full bloom again.

It surprised me a bit how sentimental I am over my garden. I suppose that's a part of being a gardener. The thrill of spring & planting, the joy of a bountiful harvest, and the sadness when frost comes. I am so thankful for it all.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My Feet Are Cold

It doesn't seem like that long ago that I used to wear sandals in the winter. I must be getting old.

It was cold today. One of the coldest days so far this fall. We haven't gotten a frost yet, but it was only 40 degrees this morning. We are trying to go as long as possible without turning the furnace on, so it was only about 63 in the house. I was very sensible and put on some nice warm socks.

I don't think they helped.

I think my feet might have been warmer without them.

My feet are so cold!!! And it's not even winter yet!!